I’m standing in for Abbey again today, and I thought this week I would share some of what I learned about editing.
Over the course of my writing career, that being ten years of unpublished toying, and six months of heavy work toward publishing, I have learned a lot about coming up with ideas and defeating writer’s block. I have completed two manuscripts in publication with Breathless Press and due out by the end of this year, or the beginning of the next. (For details you can check my website.)
Bound by Love and Crushing Desire are 85000+ words. I also have several with between 5000-50000 words. In addition I have a number of ideas which are scribbled down awaiting their turn.
Since the idea of writing only 5000 words is a daunting task to some, I thought I would give the benefit of my experience to those writers who wish to build a word count, build on ideas, and defeat the dreaded writer’s block.
How to start writing a novel-
Before you can write, you have to know what genre to write in. My best advice with this is to think of what you know and love first.
For example, here are my favorite genres:
I know and love romance.
I also know and love suspense.
Next write a short story for each to see which you have the knack for. Have family, friends, or a few author colleges -if you have them- give them a read. Listening to the critiques and opinions will help you to get used to the negative comments that you will receive at some point in the journey to publishing. More importantly, it will allow you to see what you, and your audience feel is your best subject.
Personally I can’t really write suspense. There is too much plotting involved, and I am a “the characters whisper to me” sort of writer. I never know what will happen until it happens.
Now that you have discovered what you enjoy writing and you are good at, you can move on to the ideas.
I tend to get ideas from things I see and read. For example, when I watched the movie Signs, I didn’t say, oh wow they are safe when it ended. I said what do they do now. I mean half to three quarters of the world is gone. That has to make things a bit dicey for the remaining people. And what about the destruction?
I wonder similar things about bomb shelters. What if someone were to lock themselves into one, and come out a decade later to see that the world didn’t end. (And no, this question was not answered by the Brendan Frasier movie.)
Crushing Desire was inspired by a raging crush I had as a young girl. I have no idea where the man is now, and I have found my hero, but it made me wonder what would have happened if he had been around my whole life? Would I still be pining away for him?
Bound by Freedom, Unbound by Love came from my wondering what would happen if the captive fell in love with the handsome captain, and then the ship was taken. Would she be released, or sent to jail too?
Alternately you can take an old idea and turn it on its ear. The Comanche takes the beautiful white woman captive, and she falls madly in love with him. Been there, done that, right. A thousand times. What if it was the white woman taking the Comanche captive? Now there is a fresher idea.
Ok, so you have your idea. What comes next?
Tell yourself a good story. If you like it, chances are we will too. I write the stories that tell themselves to me. The man who wrote the Wizard of Oz used to tell the stories to his children at night. If you can tell a fun story to yourself, or your family, well then you can write it down and have a fun story for the publishers as well.
Defeating the evils of writer’s block-
Writer’s block has hit me three times since I started writing, and I have been able to defeat it in less than a day each time. However, the longer I resisted the remedy, the longer it lasts.
The remedy is a rewrite. Obviously you have written your character into a corner, or perhaps you have given them too many choices. You have to give them a finite number of options, but options they must have.
Try taking the story back to a prior choice, and starting again from there.
I had written a scene where the character punches her mother in law. I got stuck soon after. I couldn’t figure out how to stop the heroine from taking the path that it inevitably led to. She just wouldn’t see reason. Plus her mother in law was causing more trouble when I wanted her to calm and stop causing trouble.
Well, I backed her up, and started again. This time she settled for a scathing comment that hurt more than the punch, and things fell into place. Sometimes you have to erase hundreds or thousands of words, but it will be worth it if you can beat the block and move on to write tens of thousands more.
So there you have it. The most important parts to writing your novel and making it happen. Hope it helped you.